Thanks so much to those of you who have been following this series from the first installment, which is set in New Orleans. I had a lot of fun writing that and The Beautiful People: Las Vegas story.
**UPDATED – NOW AVAILABLE**
And for B&N NOOK
Today I’m sharing with you a preview to the third installment of this series, which takes place in New York City. Colin, Vanessa, Donovan and Yen Chu are back for another merry-go-round weekend of partying at exclusive events, flirting with dangerous desires and wrestling with drug-induced drama. Check it out and let me know what you think! This hasn’t been edited yet, it’s directly from my computer to yours. 🙂
Socrates Book Reviews has said of the series, “…well- written and filled with quite a bit of action. This is erotic fiction at its best. It’s an excellent way to spend a couple of hours.”
Bursts of flash illuminated the stage inside the upper east-side mansion as statuesque models emerged single file to anticipatory applause. In the midst of a bevy of photographers, Yen Chu was hard at work shooting the Spring/Summer debut of a clothing collection by a boundary-pushing Ukrainian designer named Dmytro Stanescu. The event, an invite-only fashion show coupled with a fine art exhibit and lavish after party, was a fundraiser for disabled children in the creator’s homeland. Journalists from the Ukrainian Weekly, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, select style bloggers and the likes were in high attendance as were luminaries from the world of fashion and visual arts.
It was Yen’s second time working a production at the beautiful but often over-looked Ukrainian Institute of America. With its expansive staircase, carved woodwork and French Renaissance charm, the building was quite a sight to behold. Its uniqueness made it a perfect for location for the evening’s affair. Fashion followers marveled with oohs and ahhs at models sauntering down the catwalk in motif-accented pieces. From pulsating music punctuating the entrance of each model to the excitement surrounding the overall presentation, one would never guess that a thunderstorm had begun drenching theManhattanstreets beyond the mansion’s doors.
“I really don’t understand some of these creations!” Colin whispered after drinking the last of his water with lemon.
“Me either, but they’re artistic.” Vanessa opined. While many of the ensembles were breathtaking there were a few that were too adventure-seeking for her to appreciate.
Colin leaned forward to get a better look. “She looks like she’s wearing a plastic garbage bag with a helmet on!”
“With feathers!” Donovan injected, pomposity emanating from him. “Come on, buddy, you should have expected this kind of spectacle. This is a fashion show, a parade of trite garments that will look even more hideous in six months!” He drank the last of his champagne and leaned back cross-legged at the knee.
“Don’t start!” Colin instructed, knowing that Donovan could get carried away when it came to the topic of clothing. “I should have never said anything.” Of the foursome, Donovan was always the hardest to satisfy.
Vanessa glanced over at them with a smile. She was happy to be with her best friends again even Yen was working. It had felt like more than a month had gone by since they met up inLas Vegas, but the timing was accurate. “Aw, leave him alone,” she came to Donovan’s defense. Vanessa just missed the fun she only seemed to have when they were together. Flair from the sapphire and emerald bracelet that coiled around her chocolate wrist twinkled against the room’s light when she reached over to pat Donovan’s leg.
He couldn’t help himself. Ever since he was a boy he’d taken keen interest in clothing, learning the rudiments of tailoring from his grandmother, a costume designer for Broadway shows. Donovan’s childhood curiosity blossomed into a desire to construct his own suits and dress shirts. I can do it better than the stores, he’d once proclaimed and was correct. He had an eye for precision and his sewing was impeccable. He’d even made a tasteful dress for his first girlfriend. After convincing her that he wasn’t gay, they went on to date for several years before he outgrew her company and propensity for drama. Good riddance, he’d thought to himself after breaking it off.
Beyond his agility with a needle, Donovan’s fascination spilled over into accessories. He now owned at least 200 ties, 25 pairs of cufflinks and more than 30 pairs of shoes, which he kept neatly organized in square compartments with the front of one shoe and back of the other facing forward. His closet often rivaled that of many of the women he dated, one of whom left him because she felt uneasy about a man who paid so much attention to his wardrobe.
“May I take your glass?” A female usher pulled their attention away from the fashion show.
“You certainly can.” Colin greeted her with a 1000-watt smile.
She winked at him before collecting their glasses and walking away, her onyx eyes and black and white tuxedo-style uniform made her an androgynous allure.
“Yes, this is what I’m talking about. Even the help is eye-candy!” He beamed. “And this one here I can definitely work with!” Colin nodded toward the stage at a gracefully slim male model with copper skin and palpable confidence. “Vanessa!” He whispered. “Do you see how big his hands are?” Colin spoke of the guy on the runway. “Mm hm!”
Vanessa’s couldn’t help but laugh with him for a moment before veering to Yen’s expert ways of making frenzied photograph taking look easy. Vanessa admired the passion she saw YenChuput into her work. Not before long, the show began to wind down and the designer, Dmytro was invited to come out and take a bow. The curtains then drew back to reveal all of the models who had participated in the event, the guests rose to their feet to give an exuberant round of applause. The crowd soon began break up and move about the mansion while Colin, Vanessa and Donovan began walking Yen’s way and they converged near the empty stage.
“Hey!” Yen greeted them. She was dressed in all black save for earthy accessories and a pair of candy-orange peep-toe pumps that she had picked up while working on assignment in Milan the year before. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail with a cascade of tight curls falling against her back.
“Yen, you look fantastic!” Donovan complimented with a broad grin.
“Thank you.” She shifted the shoulder strap of her camera and nudged it out of the way to accept his hug.
Just as Vanessa was getting ready to speak she felt the soft brush of a warm hand against her bare shoulder.
“Pardon me, darling.” A bespectacled yet distinguished looking man excused himself. “I just wanted to say that you have distracted me all night. You look,” he paused to find the appropriate word, “divine.”
Flattery fell over Vanessa like a sheath of the finest Japanese silk. “Thank you.” She blushed.
“You’re most welcome. I would not rest well if I did not say anything.” His perfectly trimmed beard framed a dashing smile. “Enjoy your evening.” He took a step back to acknowledge their group before strolling away.
Yen clasped Vanessa’s hand and redirected her attention with compliments of her own. “You do look beautiful.” Her fingers gently caressed Vanessa’s palm and traveled up to her forearm. “Great hair, perfect smile…” Yen inched closer, her thumb osculating Vanessa’s inner elbow before continuing. “Warm, chocolate skin.”
Well damn. Vanessa felt a tingle travel from the base of her neck down her spine. Was it from Yen, the suave stranger or the wine? “Thank you.” Her thighs tensed at the gentle pressure of Yen’s touch.
“You’re welcome.” Yen winked and smiled coolly. She released Vanessa’s hand but didn’t back up.
There was a gap in conversation before Donovan cut in. “I could go for some food.” He had been caught off guard, wondering if the obvious tension been Vanessa and Yen had been present during their previous meet ups.
“As much as I would love to,” Yen cleared her throat. “I actually have to head home and get these photos edited tonight.” She pat her camera as if it were a toddler needing attention.
“Oh, come on, Yen. Stay for a little while!” Colin protested.
“I wish,” she said with a giggle. “Work has to be done because bills need to be paid.” Yen earned a lot as a freelance photographer but spent equally as much on her addiction to designer clothing and cocaine. She had been working on curbing the latter, however. “Party at my place tomorrow anyway,” she reminded him. “You guys have fun for me tonight.”
“Fine then.” Colin gave in without much of a fuss. He had already started scanning the room for beautiful people who might make good company for the evening.
After pleasant goodbyes and promises to meet up at her place the following day Yen double-checked with Vanessa that she had a key to her to her loft. “I doubt I’ll be sleeping when you get there, but just in case,” Yen explained. The two were rooming together for the weekend as were Colin and Donovan at Donovan’s Brooklyn apartment.
“See ya!” Yen piped before heading out.
“What the hell was that?” Colin wasted no time questioning Vanessa.
He looked at her as if to say, Bitch, please! “You and Yen? All of this long eye contact and skin caressing! What’s really going on?”
Oh my god. “Nothing!” Vanessa grimaced in embarrassment. “Nothing.” She worked to keep her composure. “And quit being nosey!”
Donovan observed quietly, unsure of if what he was feeling were jealousy or arousal. He’d had a slight crush on Vanessa himself.
“Let me find out something happened between you two and it’s on, okay? Y’all know the rules! No sleeping with anyone in the group no matter how bad you want to. You’ll just mess it up and make everything weird for the rest of us when you break up.” Colin preached.
“Yeah, yeah.” While Vanessa knew he was right, she didn’t know what might become of the night if Yen were awake when she got there. “Donovan, let’s indulge in some hors d’oeuvres, shall we?” She smiled and changed the subject.
-end of preview- (c) Cheril N. Clarke
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